TEXTS: Genesis 14:17-24; 28:16-22; Malachi 3:7-18; 1 Corinthians 16:1-3)
The teaching and principle of giving tithes and offerings to God is scriptural and obligatory. It is neither a peculiarity of the dispensation of the Law nor a priority of the dispensation of grace. A thorough examination of this subject is necessary for proper understanding of the Scripture position against the backdrop of Satan-inspired falsehood being peddled by modern-day psychedelic preachers. Knowledge of the truth will shield true believers from being “…tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive”. Besides knowing the truth, obedience to these injunctions of Scripture promises great blessings. Prosperity, plenty and bountifulness are the testimonies of saints who obey this injunction regularly and faithfully.
BEGINNING OF TITHING (Genesis 14:17-24; Hebrews 7:1-8; Genesis 28:16-22; Leviticus 27:30-34; Numbers 18:21-24; Deuteronomy 12:5,6; 2 Chronicles 31:5-12; Malachi 3:7-12; Romans 15:4; Matthew 23:23; 1 Corinthians 16:1-3)
Before the Law, saints of God gave their tithes unto the Lord. About four hundred and thirty years before the Law was instituted, Abraham gave tithe Melchizedek, “king of Salem” and “priest of the most high God” while returning from the conquest of his enemies. “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all,” This marked the commencement of tithing in Scripture. Still before the Law, Jacob, the grandson of Abraham also paid tithe. He said, “this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee”. The implication of this truth is that, believers in Christ are Abraham’s seed; as such, we are expected to walk in the faith and steps of Abraham by paying tithe, noting also that Christ is our High Priest after the order of Melchisedec (Galatians 3:26-29; Romans 4:12; Hebrews 5:8-11). God enacted into law, thereby giving His irrevocable sanction to the practice of Abraham and Jacob. “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD, These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai” (Leviticus 27:30,34). In fact, the children of Israel were required to bring their tithes and offerings to designated places of worship and through this practice, the Levites, God’s ministers, were provided for (Deuteronomy 12:5,6; Numbers 18:24). This practice continued during the dispensation of kings and prophets (2 Chronicles 31:5-12; Malachi 3:8-12). Disobedience to this injunction earned the whole nation of Israel divine rebuke delivered by Prophet Malachi. He said, “…ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them… Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.” In the New Testament, we see the stamp of Jesus Christ on this noble and rewarding practice. He says, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone”. Here, Jesus condemned hypocrisy and partial obedience to the tenets of the law, not the practice of giving tithes and offerings. He rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for selecting some precepts of Scripture and discarding others, indicating the all-time relevance of justice, mercy, faith and tithes and offering. Christ is the final authority on all matters of the Christian faith. God’s command concerning Christ to sincere seekers and worshippers is, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matthew 17:5). All who peddle opinions and doctrines that are contrary to this clear revelation of the truth incur God’s wrath for adding to or subtracting from His word (Revelation 22:18,19).
BIBLICAL GIVING (Matthew 6:1-4; Malachi 3:7-11; Exodus 35:5,29; Deuteronomy 16:10; 23:23; 2 Corinthians 9:6-8; 8:11,12)
Giving can be in the form of alms, tithes or freewill offering. Tithe is one-tenth of gross earnings of employees or profit of business persons while offering is whatever the believer gives above that. It is important for everyone, however, to know the basis of biblical giving. The Scripture says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1: 17). Biblical giving centres on our stewardship of the physical, spiritual, financial and material resources God, the Creator and Giver of all things, has entrusted in our care to be used for the advancement and maximum benefit of His kingdom.
God has divine ownership of our lives and resources (Ezekiel 18:4; Isaiah Haggai 2:8). our stewardship demands that we surrender all our material wealth to God with joy and gratitude for His use and glory. This is the basis of His demand that we give Him our hearts, lives and resources for His use (Proverbs 23:26; 3:9,10; Malachi 3:10; Luke 6:38). “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom, For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38; Philippians 4:15-19). God counts disobedience to His demand for tithe and offerings as ingratitude that incurs His wrath and curse. Failure to give as commanded is an express invitation to devourers. “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty” (Proverbs 11:24; Haggai 1:5-1 1). While Christ commended the wholehearted giving of the widow’s two mites, He condemned the stinginess of the rich fool who hoarded divine resources in his care that should have been used for sublime purposes. (Luke 21:1-4; 12:16-21). Giving should not be done reluctantly but willingly, cheerfully and wholeheartedly. God is the greatest Giver and He wants us to be like Him. Any wonder then that Jesus taught that, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Unfortunately, many gospel churches and Christian ministries are short of money to initiate and complete worthy projects as well as embark on evangelistic outreaches and missions for lack of funds. This is because many are yet to understand the biblical principle of stewardship and giving.
Some Christians think that tithe is all God requires of them; but they are wrong. Tithe is the minimum He expects of the believer. In appreciation of His manifold mercies, protection, preservation, provision, promotion, breakthroughs and favours, a believer can give more to the Lord by way of special, sacrificial and freewill offerings. This is because it does show, in practical terms, our acknowledgement of the fact that God owns everything. When our giving aligns with scriptural specifications and requirements, it becomes “an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God” (Philippians 4:18). Tithes and offering are more than a duty that one
should do mechanically. A business partner expects dividends at the end of the maturation period. Nobody expects a bank to pay interest on money that was not deposited with them. Yet some Christians expect God to bless them abundantly when they are not committed to Him financially. Many sing, ‘Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold’ only to frown each time they are faced with an opportunity to demonstrate their love and commitment to God.
BLESSINGS OF TITHING AND OFFERING (1 Corinthians 16:1-3; 2 Corinthians 8:2; Proverbs 3:9, 10; Malachi 3:10-18)
Giving is not measured by the amount of money that is offered. The Macedonian believers, in spite of their poverty, gave to the Lord. “How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality” There are cases of individuals who made pledges to God with a willing and sincere mind without really knowing how to fulfil them but God provided abundantly for them to redeem their pledges. God is faithful; and we must see giving as an act of faith.
The following points are crucial to giving tithes and offering. One, cultivate the habit of giving to God first before spending on other personal or family needs. “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase” (Proverbs 3:9). God expects us to give the first fruits of our income or gain. We must not delay obedience until some other seemingly pressing expenses come up and make it difficult to fulfil our financial obligation to Him. “First fruits” giving is a biblical pattern; that is, to give first to God. Two, Plan to give. Do not give haphazardly but systematically. Paul the apostle instructed the Corinthian believers: “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come”. Each believer should put what he wants to give aside from what is earned weekly or monthly and remit same at the church’s weekly meetings. With present technological advancements, a believer can also pay tithes and offering by making transfers via the web, mobile phone, point of sale (POS) machines or ATMs. There are obviously no hard and fast rules. Each person can personally plan wisely on how to give systematically and regularly. Three, we must make conscious efforts to give despite our peculiar situations. All children of God are expected to give, according to the proportion of blessings they expect from Him. Four, give consistently. We must not wait to be reminded or till we have enough.
Five, make giving part of your worship. As you come to the church every week, you can make your worship more enriching by giving at the service. God wants us to minister unto Him not only in praying and praises but also in giving. You can make it your resolve not to go to God with an empty hand (Deuteronomy 16:16). Finally, give graciously, joyfully and heartily. It takes grace to give. Do not give as if you are under duress but let the Spirit of grace guide you in your giving so you can obtain the untold blessings that God reserves for the cheerful giver.
Giving is like investing in God’s bank; and it is indeed a spiritual sacrifice that brings fruit to the account of the giver. God is interested in the material needs of your life. When you give to God, you reap untold blessings from Him. “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 3:11,12). Give to God today and He will fulfil His promises in your life.